Import beers armed with diverse flavors and brands are becoming a big threat to local beers in South Korea where consumers have limited choices with only a few indigenous brands.
According to a survey by Maeil Business Newspaper on Thursday, import beer sales at Korea’s major convenience stores outnumbered those of domestic beers with their combined monthly sales topping 50 percent of the convenience stores’ total beer sales.
Import beer sales at the country’s leading convenience store chain CU reached 51 percent last month, surpassing 50 percent for the first time. Their sales already hit 52 percent based on CU beer sales tallied between February 1 and 13.
In another big convenience store chain GS25, import beer sales have also beat out local rivals since December when the figure reached 50.6 percent. Sales of import beer were 52.6 percent in January and 55.8 percent in the first half of this month. Demand for import beer is expected to continue to increase, said an official at GS25.
Import beer sales in 7-Eleven, another major convenience chain in the country, reached 49.5 percent last month and are expected to break a 50-percent mark after their sales already jumped to 52 percent in the first half of this month.
The growing number of single-person households and young consumers preferring imported premium beer as small luxury has fueled the popularity of import beers, said industry observers. More local beer drinkers have also switched to import beers from domestic beers that have limited brands and flavors. Recently, big retail chain stores in Korea have launched over 100 import beers, said Jeon Mi-yeong, professor at Seoul National University.
A lower price barrier is another factor that has boosted demand for import beer. Convenience stores now sell four bottles of import beer for 10,000 won ($8.73) in a bundle.
By Baek Sang-kyung and Lee Hee-soo
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]